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Indigenous self-determination in mineral sector gets a boost

The Government of the Northwest Territories took advantage of a major international mining conference to advance Indigenous self-determination in the mineral sector.

The  GNWT announced the release of two regional mineral strategies -- one by the Gwich'in Tribal Council and the other by the Inuvialuit  Regional Corporation -- on Jan.21.

The mineral strategies are important and were both developed with ITI funding and in partnership with both the GTC and IRC under the NWT Mineral Development Strategy, stated a GNWT news release.

Both Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, Grand Chief and president of the GTC and Duane Smith, IRC Chair were present for the unveiling of the mineral development strategies.

Charles Klengenberg, IRC Director of Lands , Patrick Gruben, IDC Chair, Duane Smith, IRC Chair and CEO, Shane Thompson, Minister of ENR and Lands, Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, Grand Chief/President, Gwich’in Tribal Council, Katrina Nokleby, Minister of ITI and Infrastructure, Joy O'Neill, GTC Economic Development Officer, James Thorbourne, GTC Interim Chief Operating Officer.
photo courtesy of the Government of the Northwest Territories

"Each strategy outlines existing geological data, maps and information, a comprehensive history of the areas and an outline of local organizations, groups and authorities," stated the release. "A goal of regional mineral development strategies is to provide a clear vision and direction for mineral explorers, investors and others in the industry to guide comprehensive, respectful and sustainable mining practices."

Katrina Nokleby, minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said in a Jan. 22 interview: "I think it is a really key piece of development for planning and showing that Indigenous people want to have mineral exploration in their territory."

The other announcement, involved the signing of a contract between the Det'on Cho Nahanni Construction Corporation and Cheetah Resources for mining and maintenance operations at Thor Lake, 100 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife.

The Indigenous construction firm -- a subsidiary of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation -- will be the contractor for the three-year demonstration project at the Nechalacho site, located on traditional Chief Drygeese territory.

Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina takes part in the signing ceremony at the AME Roundup Conference in Vancouver this week. Canada's first rare earths project owned by Australian-based Cheetah Resources, will involve mining operations contracted out to Deton Cho Nahanni Construction. The Indigenous led firm is a subsidiary of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
photo courtesy of the Government Northwest Territories

Nokleby said both projects fit into her new government's aim to empower Indigenous people on their own lands.

"I think it is a really key piece of development for planning and Indigenous people wanting to have mineral exploration in their territory and gives them ownership," she said, adding that promoting self-determination remains an important goal.

"These strategies are integral to our work to attract investment in the Northwest Territories mineral industry," she said of the two regional mineral development strategies.

As for the contract signing of Canada's first rare earths project, Nokleby said a similar theme can be drawn, drawing the analogy between a renter and a home owner. She said with Indigenous people working on their own land, they can oversee to make sure the project is done right with good partnerships and have a larger voice in NWT's mineral industry.